NC Court of Appeals said earlier this month in Browne
v. Thompson that the decisions of the Business Court have "no
precedential value." Being a big fan of the Business Court, that
rankled me. And being the author of a blog which focuses on the Business Court,
it caused me to question my reason for writing.
In the Browne opinion, which affirms an opinion
from Judge Jolly granting a motion to dismiss the case, Judge Steelman of
the COA dissed the Business Court at the same time he affirmed it. Judge
Steelman was scoffing at the Plaintiffs' reliance on several Business Court
decisions in support of their unsuccessful appeal. He said:
The remaining cases cited by plaintiffs are decisions of
the North Carolina Business Court. The Business Court is a special Superior
Court, the decisions of which have no precedential value in North Carolina.
That was a strong statement. NO precedential
value? Really? Not even a little bit? So why should North Carolina
lawyers care what the Business Court does (or why should they even bother
reading this blog)?
Here are my top five reasons to disagree with Judge
First, the Business Court is on
the front line of business law issues in North Carolina. If you want to be up
to date on corporate matters, you need to know what the Court is dealing
with. Disregard it at your peril, precedential or not
Second, the Court was formed, as
stated by Rule
2.2 of the General Rules of Practice, in recognition of the
"desirability of a state having a substantial body of corporate law that
provides predictability for business decision making. Also, it is essential
that corporations litigating complex business issues receive timely and well
reasoned written decisions from an expert judge." There's no
predictability without precedent.
Read this article in
its entirety on North
Carolina Business Litigation Report, a blog for lawyers focusing on issues
of North Carolina business law and the day-to-day practice of business
litigation in North Carolina courts.
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I find myself unable to understand why an observation that opinions of trial courts do not bind appellate courts "rankled" you. Would you have been similarly "rankled" if the U.S. Supreme Court had said this about opinions of, say, the Ninth Circuit or the Southern District of New York?
I seem to recall having this whole "precedential" thingee explained pretty clearly during my first week in law school.
It is always interesting to see what appellate advocacy and business courts say. I would never dismiss a ruling like this. It is interesting to me that they want to keep this so quiet.